Two students arrested over pellet gun shooting | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Two students arrested over pellet gun shooting

RENO – Two elementary school students were arrested Thursday after one brought an airsoft pellet gun to school and the other accidentally pulled the trigger, striking a third-grader, authorities said. The incident on the playground at Grace Warner Elementary School happened before classes, said Washoe County School District spokesman Steve Mulvenon. Mulvenon said the boy brought the air gun that shoots plastic pellets to school, and he and a female classmate were playing. The girl accidentally pulled the trigger, and a round pellet inside the gun struck a third-grader, Mulvenon said. The third-grader’s mother came to school, looked at the injury and decided she was fine, so the student was returned to the classroom. School district police took the other two students to the Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center, Mulvenon said. “I was told there was no malicious intent,” Mulvenon said.

Teen robber had cocaine habit

A teenager accused of robbing South Lake Tahoe convenience stores to fund a cocaine habit admitted to his six charges to avoid an upcoming trial. The 17-year-old, whose name is being withheld because of his age, appeared in El Dorado County Superior Court on Monday. His wrists and ankles were bound by shackles. The six felony charges included three counts of robbery with a dangerous or deadly weapon. Three other robbery charges were lowered to grand theft. The three robbery counts are considered as strikes under California’s Three Strikes Law. If he was convicted of another felony, the teenager could face 25 years to life in prison. The teenager’s record was clear of serious offenses before his arrest two months ago. A pellet handgun was used in the crime spree. Robberies at the Roadrunner Gas & Liquor, the Liquor Shack and the Swiss Mart were included in the counts. The 17-year-old could remain in custody until he’s 21 or 25 if special circumstances were met. Visiting Judge James Dawson ordered a psychiatric report for the teenager. The reports are rare for juvenile court but Dawson wanted insight on the teenager’s substance abuse problems. Defense attorney Paul Palant said his client was recognized for behaving well in Placerville’s juvenile hall by being placed on “honor status.” Palant said the teenager was an honor roll student who fell victim to the expensive drug. “This is what happens when you get addicted to cocaine,” Palant said. The teenager plus two other juveniles were arrested in February. One is out of custody due to his lesser role while the other remains in juvenile hall. Each is represented by a different attorney. If a deal isn’t reached by both sides in the other two cases, the teens will appear for trial May 5. Sentencing for Palant’s client was scheduled for the morning of May 24. Besides further time in custody, the teenager could be ordered to reimburse the stores and other victims.

Armed robbery suspect is nabbed within minutes of leaving the scene

CARSON CITY – A Gardnerville teen was arrested Friday after allegedly robbing a Radio Shack with a pellet gun. According to Carson City Sheriff’s Detective Dave Legros, the 17-year-old suspect walked into the Radio Shack in the Carson Mall around 9 a.m. and asked the clerk about speaker wire. When the only other customer left, the teen reportedly pulled a handgun and demanded money from the lone female employee. “He pulled a gun out and told me to give him all my money and make it fast,” the employee wrote in her statement to police, Legros said. “He waved his gun at me and told me I only had five seconds to get it or he would shoot me.” After receiving an undisclosed amount of cash, Legros said, the gunman kept his weapon pointed at the clerk as he backed out of the store and fled on foot around 9:14 a.m. A minute later, Alternative Sentencing Officer Chris Pitzer was driving south on Roop Street when he saw a Jeep Cherokee run the light at Roop and Little Lane. “He almost wiped out a panel truck,” Pitzer recalled. As Pitzer prepared to stop the vehicle for reckless driving, the burglary call came over the radio. For about two blocks the vehicle failed to yield before turning right onto Oregon Street near the Department of Motor Vehicles and stopping. Pitzer held the driver at gunpoint until deputies arrived. The clerk was able to positively identify the driver as the person who robbed her, Legros said. “It don’t get no better than today,” an elated Sheriff Kenny Furlong said, laughing at the quick end to the case. “Excellent timing.” Legros said money, a pellet gun and the speaker wire the suspect was asking about were found in the vehicle. “He said he was just driving around and needed the money,” Legros said. The teen will not automatically be charged as an adult, said District Attorney Noel Waters. Under Nevada law, use of a firearm in the commission of a crime is automatically considered an adult offense. But because the weapon in this instance was a pellet gun, the circumstances do not meet the legal criteria. “However, when we see the report and take look at it, I wouldn’t be surprised if we apply for (adult) certification,” Waters said. The teen’s name is being withheld because he is being charged as a juvenile. He was booked into the Juvenile Detention Center on suspicion of armed robbery.

Truckee police: Dummy dumping is no joke

TRUCKEE – When police officer Arnulfo Lopez thought he saw a body lying in the road in Tahoe Donner Friday night, he immediately stopped to investigate. When he determined it was in fact an elaborate dummy made to look like a dead body, he starting connecting the dots – officers had responded to a dummy call earlier on April Fool’s Day. And a dummy had been found on Glenshire Drive near Olympic Heights six days earlier. When Lopez noticed a woman fleeing into the forest from behind a nearby car, he promptly gave chase. After a foot pursuit through the woods, Lopez reportedly caught up with Truckee resident Linda Adams, 49, and two juvenile males whose names were not released, as they were trying to hide on the deck of a vacant home. All three were arrested in the dummy-dumping scheme that still has Truckee police officers scratching their heads. “I would assume it’s just a prank,” said Truckee police Lt. Jeff Nichols. “I think (they did it) really just to see how we respond. A lot of people do that kind of thing – they want to see what the cops do and what firemen do when they respond.” Such responses can endanger police and others, as emergency personnel often respond to such reports at high speeds, with lights and sirens on, Nichols said. According to police reports, further investigation of the Tahoe Donner incident revealed that Adams had driven the same two juveniles to Glenshire Drive on March 26 with two other juveniles, so that they could place a dummy in the roadway and watch the emergency response by the Truckee Police Department. The two juveniles suspected of being involved March 26 were arrested. Adams had also allegedly provided the juveniles – none of whom were her children – with materials to manufacture the dummies, police said. According to Nichols, Adams had been questioned by police at the scene of the March 26 dummy-dumping incident, but officers had no reason to suspect that she was involved with the case at that time. Officers are still trying to determine how Adams and the four juveniles got involved in the scheme. Nichols said the parents of two of the juveniles involved believed that Adams’ husband had been taking them to the movies. Adams faces counts for false report of an emergency, prowling and four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, all misdemeanors. “With these allegations, we need to keep in mind that there is a presumption of innocence,” said John Mohun, attorney for Linda Adams. The four juveniles involved face charges of false report of an emergency and prowling.

South Shore teen arrested after vandalism rampage

Truckee police have arrested a South Lake Tahoe teen on suspicion of going on a $20,000 vandalism spree in Truckee over the weekend. Officers responded to a report of major vandalism of Ferguson Enterprises and The Rock Garden in Truckee on Monday. Sometime between Saturday night and Monday morning, police say someone stole a vehicle from Ferguson Enterprises, drove it through a gate and knocked down a cinder block fence on the business’ property, causing major damage to the vehicle. Then, the vandal threw rocks through the windows of a back hoe parked at the Rock Garden, according to police. During the initial investigation, Truckee police Officer Bill Mardison spotted a motor home in the parking lot of The Rock Garden and contacted the occupants as potential witnesses. Upon further investigation, officers discovered some of the occupants of the motor home were possibly involved in the crime spree, according to police reports. Police detained a 17-year-old from South Lake Tahoe who was later arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism and vehicle theft and booked into juvenile hall. Truckee police say they expect additional arrests in the case.

Heating costs rise as temperatures drop

Record high prices at the gasoline pump this fall will contribute to making the cost of heating Lake Tahoe-area homes this winter more painful than usual. The price of firewood, propane, wood pellets and natural gas all are projected to rise. “Everything we do is driven by fuel costs,” said Ed Wagner, district manager of Truckee Tahoe Propane. “It’s out of our hands.” Wagner’s propane distributor currently charges $3.08 per tank, but he expects this price to increase during winter. “This is the industry high that we’ve ever paid in 25 years, and we expect it to go up,” Wagner said. North Shore and Truckee residents relying on natural gas also may see an increase in heating costs by Jan. 8. The estimated cost to heat an average residential home in Truckee this January is $236.62 – nearly a $20 increase from last season, said spokeswoman Cynthia Messina of Southwest Gas. While wood pellets generally are a less-expensive heating option, customers in the area may be paying slightly more this year for the alternative home-heating source. Randy Kesler of Wood Stove Distributors in Incline Village said that the cost of pellets this year compared with last year is an increase of 12 percent and 15 percent, or about $1 per bag. The wood-pellet increase is modest compared with natural gas and electricity, he said. Last year, many owners of wood-pellet stoves had a difficult time finding the pellets, but Kesler said that he does not anticipate a shortage of the pellets this year. Last year’s problem was because of losing a mill in Oregon when it burned. However, this year, several new mills have opened. “With so many new mills this year, it is even possible that there will be so much competition that we may actually see a drop in prices,” Kesler said. Kesler said another reason to use pellets is that they are a renewable source. “We are not destroying our planet when we use pellets like we are with the fossil fuels,” he said. Both the wood stoves and the pellet stoves are in stock and available at Wood Stove Distributors. Kesler said they have been located in Incline Village for almost 30 years and in the past four or five years moved to the current location. Because of local interest in the wood and pellet stoves, they have even added a local service person to handle warranties and other service issues. Donnie Lee, who manages North Shore Ace Hardware in Kings Beach, said pellet manufacturer Lignetics may fall short in supplies again this winter. “If we get a cold snap, we could run into a problem,” Lee said. “We have plenty in store right now, but we have limited space on what we can store.” The cost for a 40-pound bag of Lignetic wood pellets at North Shore Ace Hardware currently is $7.99 – nearly a $2 increase from last season. Firewood retailers around Truckee and Lake Tahoe have reported varied price projections for the upcoming winter season. Reno Tahoe Firewood in Truckee will be charging $400 for a cord of wood, and owner Greg Purdy expects that price to go up around Dec. 1. “Fuel prices are eating into our profits,” Purdy said. The price increase is tied to a variety of factors, including the cost for the diesel delivery trucks and gas for chain saws, Purdy said. The owner of A-1 Firewood, which delivers to 18 cities in Northern California and Nevada, said the price for a cord of firewood is down this season and will be staying that way. “There’s more supply this winter, so the price is down from last year,” said Lee Wetherbee, who charges $365 per cord plus the cost of delivery.

Three arrested in kidnapping

TRUCKEE – Officers arrested three men over the weekend for their suspected involvement in, among other things, burglary, kidnapping and forcing a victim to walk barefoot more than a mile in the snow. The victim was at a friend’s house in Truckee Friday night when the suspects showed up at the home, said Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal. At the home, the suspects allegedly stole property, forced the victim into their car and drove him to a remote area near Prosser Reservoir, east of Truckee, Royal said. Near the reservoir they removed his shoes, forced him out of the vehicle, hit him several times, threatened to kill him and made him walk barefoot for a mile in snow and rocks, Royal said. Officers believe that one of the suspects became uncomfortable with the situation and they left the victim in Tahoe Donner, a large subdivision in Truckee. The victim was treated and released from Tahoe Forest Hospital with facial injuries. Investigators believe the man owed the suspects money and drugs may have been involved. A day after the incident, officers arrested Truckee residents Vernon Chambers, 20, and Allan Laird, 18, on suspicion of kidnapping, robbery, making criminal threats and burglarizing the man. Officers also confiscated a substance they believe to be cocaine from Chambers and Laird’s Davos Drive home. Both men were booked in the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in Nevada City and released on $50,000 bail. On Sunday, Anthony Manning, 19 of Truckee, was arrested on suspicion of the same charges as Chambers and Laird. He remains in Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on $50,000 bail. Officers are still looking for a fourth suspect, a Truckee juvenile, whose name is not being released. Nevada County Sheriff’s investigators are still looking into the incident along with the Truckee Police Department.

Paint ball shooting spree reported in South Lake Tahoe

An unknown vandal or group of vandals is leaving a mark on South Lake Tahoe in what victims are considering to be a rather annoying way. Since last Thursday, South Lake Tahoe police have received at least five reports of paint balls fired at motorists and businesses. To date, the incidents have not resulted in injury or significant property damage, police reported. This is probably the only consolation for startled victims. “I was scared,” said Susan Bhakta, co-owner and manager of the Elizabeth Lodge, which was pelted shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday. “I heard loud noises like the window breaking. It was like lightning – two, three strikes and it was gone. My windows were messed up with orange paint. I’m lucky my windows were not broken.” The damage was reportedly wiped clean with window cleaner. Earlier Saturday, a woman reported being hit in the head with a paint pellet as she traveled on U.S. Highway 50 near Silver Dollar Avenue. A male victim on Thursday afternoon reported paint balls were fired at his vehicle as he drove in South Lake Tahoe’s Al Tahoe district. The incidents have occurred across town – between the South “Y” intersection and the state line. The paint balls are actually pellets containing a dye that leaves a stain upon impact. Police do not know if all of the incidents have been perpetrated by the same suspect or suspects. Under South Lake Tahoe city codes, paint ball guns are considered a dangerous weapon. It is a misdemeanor to fire these weapons in city limits, said Police Sgt. Rick Canale. A person could additionally be charged with battery if a pellet struck a person or vandalism if a pellet resulted in property damage. Due to difficulties in tracing the origins of the paint pellets after they are fired, Canale said police need tips from witnesses to identify suspects. Anyone with information related to the crimes is asked to contact South Lake Tahoe police, 542-6100, or Lake Tahoe Secret Witness, 541-6800. Secret Witness offers cash rewards for anonymous tips leading to the arrest and conviction of crime suspects.

Drug bust nets 6

A monthlong investigation by California and Nevada law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrest Thursday of six Kings Beach residents on suspicion of drug and immigration-related charges. At about 4:30 p.m. Thursday officers served search warrants at various locations in Kings Beach, including a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. According to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, undercover officers made numerous drug buys during the investigation. “There was an amount of drugs confiscated (Thursday), but not as much as they would have liked to have found,” said Deputy John Lasagna of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. KFC restaurant manager Jose Rojas-Rodriguez, 34, was arrested on suspicion of sales of a controlled substance and federal immigration charges. Jaime Araujo, 23, Pablo A. Munoz, 23, and Eloisa Mardol Resediz, 24, are also being held on suspicion of various drug-related charges. Fidel Martinez-Olivera, 31, was arrested on suspicion of probation violation and federal immigration charges. A 25-year-old employee of Kentucky Fried Chicken was cited and released for possession of drug paraphernalia. While officers searched KFC, people stopped to see what was happening. One teenager said he was disappointed when he found out the KFC he regularly eats at was temporarily closed due to narcotics arrests. Neighbors were surprised by what was going on in Kings Beach. Teenagers rode around on their bikes and watched the officers search houses. Officials also confiscated forged Social Security and resident identification cards from some of the suspects. More than 70 law enforcement officers were involved in the operation Thursday, including the California State Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, the South Lake Tahoe/El Dorado County Narcotics Enforcement Team, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. , the California Highway Patrol, the Truckee Police Department, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, the Nevada Drug Enforcement Administration and TRINET in Carson City assisted Placer County with the operation. Placer County began the drug investigation after noticing a significant increase in the number of juveniles under the influence of methamphetamine – in indicator of increased sales activity, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “There have been more reports of juveniles at school with drugs,” Lasagna said.

Solaro, Kingsbury don’t let Tahoe be overlooked by county

Dave Solaro is acutely aware of the need of a juvenile detention facility in South Lake Tahoe. He frequently went to bat for such a concept as South Lake Tahoe’s chief of police, and now he has taken the battle to El Dorado County government. Solaro, who retired from the police force when he was elected to the Fifth District supervisor’s seat in June, made his views known during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday in Placerville. Solaro pulled an item off of Tuesday’s agenda, in which the board was asked to approve a $59,000 grant for a study to upgrade the county’s juvenile hall facility in Placerville. The item was placed on Tuesday’s agenda by the County General Services Department, citing a recently-released Juvenile Hall Needs Assessment Report which made no mention of a permanent facility for South Lake Tahoe. “I felt so strongly that our needs are not being addressed, that I had to pull it off the agenda,” said Solaro, who took office on Jan. 3. “I felt we were overlooked. Neither I or (South Lake Tahoe Superior Court Judge) Suzanne Kingsbury were notified or consulted when they prepared the report. “I’m doing what the voters have asked me to do, which is to stick up for Lake Tahoe.” A permanent juvenile detention center in South Lake Tahoe has long been recognized as a pressing need. But the notion of building such a facility has always been seen as cost prohibitive – until recently. In November, voters passed Senate Bill 2147, which allows California to follow federal standards in which juvenile and adult offenders may share aspects of the same facility. In other words, the county would not have to pay for an entirely separate youth facility at Tahoe. The existing adult jail could be enlarged and remodeled to accept juveniles. “(Such a facility) still must have separate housing, recreation and staff,” Solaro said, “But the two would be able to share laundry and kitchen facilities. And it could all be housed in the same plant. “So, for the first time, it looks like we can get this thing done.” But then along came the Juvenile Assessment Report, which was prepared by the Criminal Justice Research Foundation in Sacramento. The report included some misleading statistics, according to Solaro. “For instance, the report cites that 31 percent of felony juvenile arrests occur through the South Lake Tahoe Police Department,” Solaro said. “But the real total is higher than that, because the report doesn’t take into account the arrests made by the sheriff’s department or the California Highway Patrol.” The report also includes a composite profile which shows that four of every 10 juvenile arrests in El Dorado County are made by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. But again, that figure is actually higher, because the statistics do not factor in arrests made in South Lake Tahoe by other agencies. “I think residents should be alarmed at those statistics,” Kingsbury said. “I think that they should demand that the Board of Supervisors look at an effective way to deal with this problem. “Tourists are reluctant to visit places they view as hotbeds of criminal activity. Unfortunately, juvenile crime seems to be a growth industry.” Currently, County General Services has no plans other than to create a day use, check-in juvenile treatment facility at South Shore. “I feel that does not replace the need for a permanent facility,” Solaro said. “Now, I’m all for improving the facility at Placerville. I’m in favor of that. But that doesn’t help us in Tahoe, where the need is so great.” Solaro suggested – and the rest of the board agreed – that the item should be presented again after a more comprehensive set of statistics regarding South Lake Tahoe juvenile crime can be obtained. “The report cites that 40 percent of (county juvenile) arrests occur through South Lake Tahoe, but the real figure is more like 50 percent, or higher,” Solaro said. “When you’re looking at 50 percent, then the need is very pressing.” Judge Kingsbury deals with juvenile crime on a consistent basis – she handles juvenile court cases on Mondays. “When a juvenile is transported to the Placerville facility, you always have one or two officers performing that transportation,” she said. “That leaves our community with a shortage of protection for that period of time. I know, because I am frequently contacted in the middle of the night to make that choice for law enforcement.” Both Kingsbury and Solaro feel that juveniles in trouble with the law need their families more than ever. But because of factors such as weather or lack of transportation, many families can’t make the drive to Placerville on a consistent basis to be with an incarcerated youngster. “We as a society are beginning to realize that it makes more sense to treat the problem at a local level, early on,” Kingsbury said. “Juvenile Hall has programs that Tahoe families have little chance of participating in. “The Family Reunification Program requires parental participation. Many families would like to have their children go through this program, but they are effectively denied (due to logistics). It might as well not be for them.” Back to Front Page